Andrea Horwath MPP, Hamilton-Centre

Government of Ontario

Horwath and Stamatopoulos call for action as nursing home residents face outbreaks, neglect

Published on January 7, 2022

At least 186 long-term care homes in outbreak

TORONTO — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath and Dr. Vivian Stamatopolous are calling for urgent action to staff up and send help to long-term care homes as residents face new outbreaks and brutal neglect caused by low staffing levels.
“What’s happening inside long-term care is terrifying,” said Horwath. “In previous waves, our loved ones in nursing homes were not only dying of COVID, they were dying of neglect. They went without enough food and water, or basic care because staffing levels were so low it was inhumane. Now, staffing levels are lower than ever, the outbreaks are back, and families are deeply worried for their parents and grandparents.”

Horwath and Stamatopoulos are calling for a massive staff up to care for residents, and implement proper infection prevention and control. That would require an immediate raise for personal support workers (PSWs), hazard pay, N95 masks, and paid sick days. The NDP is calling for a staffing level that requires enough staff in every home to give each resident four hours of hands-on care per day. For-profit long-term care facilities maintain staffing levels much lower than that.

As of Thursday, there were at least 186 long-term care homes in outbreak. At least 870 residents currently have COVID, although testing is too infrequent to rely on that number, according to Stamatopoulos. At least 4,040 long-term care residents and 10 frontline workers have died of COVID. Booster shots for staff are lagging, reaching barely over 40 per cent by the end of December.
“It’s incredibly frustrating to see seniors still in these terrible situations — isolated with limited testing and not getting the care they deserve,” said Stamatopoulos, who is a professor at Ontario Tech and a long-term care researcher and advocate. “Yet where is Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips? Where is the effort to get workers their booster shots, or to hire more workers? Some aren’t being given proper PPE, and none are being paid well enough. Resident care and infection control are suffering. Two years into this pandemic, and the government is still being reckless with seniors’ lives. It’s got to stop.”